Arrow – 5×03 – A Matter of Trust
Director: Gregory Smith
Story By: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Echo Kellum

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Season 5 continues to go strong, as we open this week to re-join Oliver and his ethnically diverse 90s street crew of Wild Dog, Ragman, Mr. Terrific and…well, the girl we haven’t spent a whole lot of time with, and therefore doesn’t yet have a ‘say what you see’ nickname – though chances are, she’ll likely end up being the next Black Canary, after Laurel’s plea to Oliver to never let the name die. Nevertheless, they’re all doing their ‘group’ thing at the beginning of ‘A Matter of Trust’ and yet Mayor Handsome, amidst all his brooding Arrow work, is still having trouble bringing his cadets into line.

So, we take brief moments of respite in this episode with John Diggle’s helter-skelter season opening, in which the peaks and valleys are vastly different. He’s back in the States! In prison. Floyd Lawton’s back! As John’s cellmate. And though the ‘previously on Arrow (and The Flash)’ introduction made a point of showing us Barry’s confusion over John’s daughter Sarah now being John’s son, John Jr., very little about this is brought up in the episode. So, thanks I guess, Arrow staff for that slightly pointless reminder. However, things are more interesting than they seem with the prison’s new odd couple, and we see Diggle go through some tough emotional moments, before the audience it met with a twist that you might not see coming (though if you do – good for you! But, you know, don’t be that person about it).

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This week, as those of you who are Stephen Amell fans will probably already know, is the latest rematch of the Green Arrow and WWE wrestler, Cody Rhodes. Introducing Rhodes’ character Derek Sampson, as a dealer of Starling’s newest drug, ‘Stardust’ – and you can practically hear the writers laughing at their own joke – he seems to be killed early on, only to be resurrected as some kind of numb zombie. And, in true WWE fashion, Rhodes brings the fight, though it manages to look marginally more realistic than many of his WWE fights, proving that the Stardust vs. Amell fights are just getting better and better. Though Derek Sampson’s character is somewhat lacking, and in one part boils down to a bunch of very muscular guys watch him self-harm as he talks about Gary Busey.

And while Sampson is gathering together a team, Oliver realises that now is the time to put his team into action. This is the first time we see the Junior Team fight, and honestly, it feels a bit like watching a vigilante version of Glee, as we hear them talk about fashion choices, and dating on the team, as though the writers are trying to balance out the gritty action, with some light teen drama. We also see them all suit up for the first time, and it’s not bad – though Curtis’ ‘mask’ will have you wondering whether it’s a little offensive or not. It’s here that we have another moment of the Arrow writers laughing to themselves, as Evelyn asks why Rene wears a hockey mask, Oliver replying he thinks it’s cool (as a nod to Amell’s latest movie role of Casey Jones in TMNT: Out of the Shadows).

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Flashbacks are a little light this week, but we join Oliver on his next step to Bratva initiation, which tests his trust in his ‘brothers’. On the other hand, entirely too much time is spent on the fanfiction storyline of Oliver and Felicity – where this week, Felicity’s new boyfriend calls on the Green Arrow for help and Oliver almost shoots him – gasp! And if the soap opera wasn’t bad enough, the writers make even more of a mess of Felicity, by taking a scene between her and Rory (Ragman) that could’ve been very emotional, and even slightly redeeming for Felicity’s character and cramming it in the last couple of minutes.

Arrow -- "A Matter Of Trust" -- Image AR503A_0222b.jpg --- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Green Arrow  -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Thea finds herself in an awkward position this week, as handling Oliver’s Mayoral affairs seems to blow up in her face, at the appointment of Quentin Lance as Deputy Mayor, but in true Speedy style, she comes back strong, vowing not to be caught out again. And as Thea’s strength comes out in full force this episode, there are also a couple of truly badass scenes, that deserve an honourable mention: number one – retractable arrow move, and number two – cool guys don’t look at explosions.

For now, Arrow season five is still strong, let’s hope they can keep up the pace.

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